A few years ago, I joined Guild Wars 2, and it rapidly became one of my go-to games. It had action, it had adventure, it had… one serious flaw. When I started up a human female Elementalist, I was given an outfit that I consider inappropriate. That is, I’m a married woman, and I want my armor to say, “Let’s run a dungeon,” not “Hi, my name is Carol, and these are my breasts.”
It took several sessions of GW2 with dropped loot and crafting to create something I didn’t hate. It took until level 80 to find something I actually liked–something that made me feel powerful, not exposed or even ridiculous.
While looking for armor that I wanted to wear, I realized something important: It costs to look this bad, both in terms of time (grinding through levels) or actual money (purchased outfits).
This got me thinking about clothes and armor you can find in MMOs. As anyone who’s ever seen Project Runway knows fashion isn’t just about looking good; clothes perform a necessary function, which shifts depending on the context.
I spoke with Erica Waddell, a Los Angeles-based fashion designer, about the aesthetics and functionality (if there was any) of five different randomly chosen MMO outfits. Waddell broke down the outfits for me from a designer’s perspective, showcasing the good, the bad, and the highly impractical.
For all of the good, there’s an equal amount of bad here. Let this be a wake-up call to MMO designers who want their players to look like they can actually survive their game.
WORLD OF WARCRAFT: BLOODMAR SET
This outfit obviously is effective. It’s sleek. It looks cool. The silhouette is both feminine and athletic. It definitely shows that she’s a badass.
And, clearly, she’s doing a lot with her elbows and her knees, as she seems to have them overly covered.
She doesn’t do anything to protect her neck. I think it’s great that she shows off her collarbone. It’s definitely an attractive look. But that doesn’t really help you to, you know, keep you from being beheaded.
She has her head, her neck, and her chest exposed. You aren’t going to kill anyone by cutting their shoulder unless you hit an artery or something.
There seems to be a little bit of coverage around her face and her cheeks but not actually covering her ears, and that doesn’t make any sense. Those ears coming out of the side of her head are actually above her head line; they seem incredibly exposed. They could get caught on a tree branch or [suffer] some other kind of a liability.
She has all of this very cool armor around her shoulders, and her elbows and her knees [are] protected. Maybe she has significant joint pain or something.
TERA: Nightforge Robe
From a runway perspective, I definitely like this outfit. It’s beautiful.
The colors are great. Definitely communicates the idea of a planetary, ethereal, celestial force.
And then she has these really cool tassels coming off of her elbows in the back off of her arm bands. Again, very attractive, although it just don’t seem very useful from a functional level. But on a formal level, certainly very mystical.
So again, the look totally works.
All of these outfits focus on shoulders! And I understand it: if you want to show off strength and power, you want to amplify the shoulders. But from an actual, practical standpoint, if you want to have actually more movement in the shoulders, then you want to minimize the amount of stuff on them.
These shoulders [are also a] liability. Those are going to get caught on the drapes really easily. Every time she bends down to pick something up, they would get caught on something.
I’m presuming she doesn’t fight much. Like she might get attacked from time to time, but that she’s not actively going out to battle on a daily basis. In general, I don’t suggest that people go out into battle–or even hiking–with heels on.
[Looking at the view from behind.] The half-belt, from the tunic thing that goes to the asshole, looks really cool. I’m not sure I’d want it to stop right in the asshole.
BLACK DESERT ONLINE: IGNIS COSTUME
Overall, quality character design and fairly effective.
The crossover belts, the green belts in the middle that hold onto the quiver, and the chains on the side of the belt coming down a little bit on the right hip are effective. The tunic is smartly done. Unlike the flowing capes of some of these other characters, [this] tunic isn’t going to get caught in things or trip her up.
I like the shape of the quiver. I know I’m getting into industrial design and not fashion design at the moment, but the quiver is definitely a cool shape. Interesting lines.
It’s a very cute look. The [armor] on the shoulder shows a degree of strength. On the other shoulder, she shows vulnerability and femininity, with the exposed bra strap and a little bit of shoulder skin. On an aesthetic level, this is a good design. It’s attractive.
The amount of stuff on the shoulder and on the knees seems a little bizarre to me. But the knees [are] not so bad, in that they would protect her.
My big critique is the bow…. The bow could easily get caught on that gigantic thing she has sitting on her shoulder, and that seems kind of ineffective. Generally, you would pull the arrows out from one arm with one hand and the bow out with the other.
That’s probably why she has those metal parts on her hands: to remind her not to scratch her hand every time she reaches for her bow.
One other question is, how she’s going to keep those thigh-highs up? Maybe that’s why she has those metal pieces on her legs, because I don’t see a garter belt.
I presume she knows how to frolic around the trees without getting caught on things.
At least she has something around her neck to signify that she understands that she needs to protect it—even though she’s not actually protecting it.
WARTUNE: YULETIDE SET
[The character]’s got all of the holidays covered. She’s got Valentine’s Day. She’s got Christmas. Maybe some Halloween or something in there. I hope that Hallmark gives her her own section, like Hello Kitty.
On a cosplay level, this seems pretty easy to do because you could go to the 99 Cents store and just go to town. Glue it together and then you’d be ready for next Christmas or Comic-Con or whatever. Just save your pennies until December 26th, and you can get all of this stuff on sale.
If the element of surprise is important to whatever her power is, I would think that the gigantic jingle bells extending from the third set of her antlers are going to give her away.
In terms of function, those thigh high boot heels are going to get caught in that Christmas tree skirt train. It’s going to get caught. She’s going to get caught in that and she’s going to trip and fall. And she’s going to hit her head with gigantic antlers on. That’s going to be the end of this character.
I’m presuming that her magical powers are threefold:
1. She can light a Christmas tree from anywhere in the universe.
2. She can deliver presents to good girls and boys.
3. When she wants to call it a night, that she takes off the elk horns and puts down the scepter of crystal Christmas tree star, keeps heart-shaped naughty maid costume that she has on underneath, and… becomes some sort of an escort.
I still wouldn’t want to follow her into battle, but I might include her on my kickball team.
GUILD WARS 2: PHOENIX ARMOR
Phoenix would be awesome if I were going to rave tonight. She’s got the booty shorts with kind of a train. You don’t even need to limit it to a rave. This would be an awesome outfit for Carnaval or something. If I were a samba dancer, this might be the way to go.
Great lines from a perspective of looking attractive.
Since her name is Phoenix, I presume she has the power to, I don’t know, resurrect herself or something? She would need that power with this outfit. Her chest, her collarbone, her shoulders – all more or less exposed.
She’s kind of missing the element of surprise with gigantic red feathers coming off of her wrists, so you can see wherever she is moving toward next.
Theme of the day: something gigantic on your shoulder. I don’t know if those are metal or those are feathers. If they are feathers, why are they there? If they’re metal, it’s even worse. It seems really ineffective. ‘Captain Hook with a parrot on my shoulder’ kind of a thing going.
Her hair is gorgeous, but, again, doesn’t really protect her head. Kind of like the thing around the eye. I don’t know how that helps you in battle other than to identify you when you’re dead.
If the goal is to get her MRS [degree] while she going into battle, find a guy who she thinks that she’s attractive and strong reproductively, she’s definitely got that going for her. She’s showing off the chest line, and she’s got the whole, kind of… accentuation of the genitalia, the lines around the crotch drawing attention down there.
Yeah, it’s very effective if you’re trying to get with a guy from the opposite warring tribe and say, “Hey, why don’t we interbreed”?
Featured Image Credit: Guild Wars 2